Cheesecake under Pressure

Cheesecake is delicious but fattening, so I had never made one. Also, cheesecake baking is labor-intensive, with its water bath and springform pan. Then I read about pressure cooker cheesecake. Now cheesecake can be a Hasty Tasty dish.

You can lighten the cheesecake by substituting Neufchâtel cheese for the cream cheese, but I don’t recommend other low fat substitutions. For me, cheesecake is a decadent dessert I save for a rare treat or to give as an impressive gift.

I made plain cheesecake and topped it with fresh berries. I used a 7” pan and my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. Neufchâtel cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 oz. sour cream
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Graham cracker crumbs for crust
  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, melted, for crust
A 7” springform pan in a silicone sling fits my 6 quart Instant Pot.

Directions:

  • Prepare crust by combining Graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press mixture into a 7” springform pan.
  • Place crust in freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Combine sour cream and Neufchâtel cheese with sugar and beat, but don’t over beat.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • Add vanilla extract and stir just until combined.
  • Pour filling into prepared crust.
  • Using a sling, place pan into pressure cooker on a trivet over 10 oz. water.
  • Seal cooker. Cook under pressure for 28-30 minutes.
  • Quick-release pressure and carefully remove cheesecake from the pot. Check for doneness. if edges aren’t set and center jiggles, it’s done. If not, return the pan and trivet to the pressure cooker and cook 5 minutes additional.
  • Cool cheesecake completely on a rack. Cool another 4 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
  • Slice cheesecake into 8 pieces, top (optional), and serve.
  • Cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 4 days. (It won’t last that long!) 😋

I want to thank Barbara Schrieving for her excellent tutorial on foolproof cheesecake. If you don’t follow her Pressure Cooking Today site, I recommend you subscribe.

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Stocks and Broths

In the past decade, there’s been an explosion of products containing bone broth. In fact, bone broths are touted as the latest health elixir. Well, guess what, folks: Bone broth is nothing but your great granny’s stock.

TV cooking personality Alton Brown defines stock as containing bones and water. Period. That’s it. No salt, no vinegar, no vegetables…just bones and water. Broth is created using stock with the addition of ingredients for seasoning, such as celery, onions, carrots, and salt and pepper.

Stock cooks for hours in order to extract all the flavor and collagen from bones. Then it’s strained and stored for future use. With a pressure cooker, I reduce cooking time to 90 minutes followed by natural depressurization. I store in pint-size freezer-safe jars.* After quick cooling in a sink filled with cool water, I refrigerate my jars of stock. The following day, I label and freeze the jars unless I intend to use the stock within a week.

Pint freezer-safe jar

*Freeze only in jars marked “freezer safe.”

Homemade stocks are better than store bought cans or cartons because you control the ingredients. Less expensive, too.

Broths made from homemade stocks are rich, healthy, and tasty. Stock can be used to make a quick gravy or sauce, or as the base for soup. It’s a perfect liquid for pressure cooking. It’s nutritious for dog food, too.

A couple of pounds of bones can yield a gallon of stock, although I usually use more. It isn’t an exact ratio. If you favor slow cooking stock, you’ll need a minimum of six hours. Over night works. When you open the stock to use it, you may find a layer of congealed fat at the top. Carefully remove this fat before using stock but don’t discard it. That fat (especially chicken fat) is rich in flavor and can be used to sauté onions, etc. in place of butter.

Vary your stock as you wish, depending on available bones. I love ham bone broth (stock) for making beans. Chicken stock is versatile and can be used in all poultry dishes as well as beef or pork. Beef stock is good for starting a vegetable soup or any number of beef dishes. Or mix your bones for a rich stock to flavor as you wish.

One last word of advice from Alton Brown. Skip the vinegar. It’s a myth that a teaspoon of vinegar accelerates the extraction of collagen. The amount of vinegar needed to have an impact would render the stock inedible.

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Quarantine Cuisine Day #30 -Benedictine Cheese

But for the COVID19 pandemic, this would be Kentucky Derby week in my hometown of Louisville. In its honor, I made a staple of Derby parties, Benedictine Cheese.

As a child, I had no idea what this stuff was, yet I loved it. To me, it was green cheese. Yummy stuff to spread on crackers, I now enjoy it on sliced zucchini, carrot sticks, and celery.

Here’s how I make Kentucky Benedictine Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 small sweet onion
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
  • (Optional) Fresh herbs for garnish
  • (Optional) green food coloring

Directions:

  • Add chopped cucumber and onion to food processor (I used my Vitamix) and purée.
  • Strain to remove excess liquid. (Cheesecloth works well)
  • Add seasonings and lemon juice. Blend.
  • Blend mixture with cream cheese until creamy.
  • Refrigerate until serving.
View inside the Vitamix

As April draws to a close, so does the quarantine (to a certain extent. Re-opening will vary from location). The Kentucky Derby may be postponed, but I can pretend I’m Derby-ing by enjoying the traditional Derby foods like Benedictine Cheese. Maybe I’ll bake a Derby Pie next, who knows?

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Quarantine Cuisine Challenge Day #29 – The Supermarket

Tomorrow is the last day of my challenge to go 30 days without a trip to the supermarket. I almost made it. With just two days to go, I took advantage of a trip to Publix Pharmacy (to pick up a prescription) to shop for groceries, too. If you haven’t yet shopped inside a grocery store during the COVID19 quarantine, here’s what’s new.

An employee sprays and wipes shopping buggies before each use. I didn’t need a buggy wipe or hand sanitizer (although I carry my own hand sanitizer and used it). Incidentally, restrooms were open and I was able to wash my hands.

I wore a mask, but not everyone did. Shoppers did observe the 6-foot rule except when passing in an aisle. At 8:45 am, it wasn’t crowded.

Aisles are one-way. Directional signs are on the floors. Also, floors are marked in 6 foot intervals at checkout lines.

Many items have limits, and some shelves are still bare, but it’s much improved since March. Canned goods had a limit of two per item per customer. A month ago there wasn’t a can to be found. There was toilet paper but no paper napkins. (I’m not sure what to make of that.)

No complimentary coffee service. I typically grab a cup before I begin shopping, but it makes sense to suspend it during the pandemic. A sign assured customers it was a temporary measure. I realize not all grocery stores offer complimentary coffee, but they do here. Whether it’s a small town thing or a southern tradition, I couldn’t say.

No-touch payment. The credit/debit card reader is wiped by an employee after each use; but with the Publix app, I simply scan the bar code for my order with my iPhone and done! My digital coupons automatically apply, too. I felt high-tech.

Plexiglass partitions separate customers from cashiers. All employees we encountered wore masks.

I thanked the cashier and bagger for their work. I believe all shoppers should wear masks to protect these workers as a courtesy.

I missed my challenge, yet I learned to be creative in making substitutes. We actually enjoyed tuna croquettes when I ran out of salmon.

Stay safe, everyone. Soon we’ll have some restrictions lifted. Please be patient and considerate when shopping. Thanks for following me during my cooking challenge while quarantined.

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